Everyone treating COVID 19 patients are risking their lives. Doctors, nurses, respiratory, physical and occupational therapists, pharmacists, lab techs, social workers and a host of other professionals are on the front lines of an unprecedented health care battle and they are making do with dwindling resources. It’s as close to a worst case scenario as there can be.
There is also another group of health care workers that never get enough recognition or pay because they are the invisible foundation or our institutional health care systems. They are the housekeepers, maintenance personnel and food service workers who make sure that the patient care environment is safe, supportive and clean for the sick as well as for the other health care workers who make a lot more money than they do.
In his recent budget address Vermont Governor Phil Scott pointed out that Vermont is spending too much money to hire traveling nurses. He has come to recognize something that has been causing economic pain to Vermont’s health care institutions for many years.
When an institution cannot hire enough nurses from the local community and they want to provide optimum staffing, they often turn to one of the national traveling nurse companies to fill vacancies. The overall cost of contracting with these agencies significantly hurts the bottom line of institutions and that means that overall health care costs increase for everyone eventually.
Recently, the question has been posed to iBrattleboro: Has the Intensive Care Unit at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital closed or is it going to be closed? Not knowing ourselves, we called Brattleboro Memorial Hospital to ask. The answer is yes, the ICU is closed and has been for almost a year.
According to Gina Pattison, a BMH public affairs representative, the ICU at Brattleboro Memorial closed officially in June 2018 when the unit was physically removed. In its place is what is called a PCU or Progressive Care Unit, which provides a notch lower level of care than an ICU but makes more efficient use of nursing staff. The Hospital reps we spoke to made clear, however, that this change has not affected patient care.